Fit Tea Review: Will It Cause Weight Loss & Boost Metabolism?

Fit Tea Review: Will It Cause Weight Loss & Boost Metabolism?

Fit Tea is another so-called detox tea in a long line of “teatoxes” on the market (see my other reviews on Skinny Teatox and SkinnyMint Teatox).

But what exactly is Fit Tea? What are the marketing claims relative to what you can reasonably expect? Will it slim you down? Will it really “detoxify” you?

In this review, I will answer all these questions, in addition to the potential risks and side effects. If you insist on using a detox tea, then it’s always best to be a wise consumer and arm yourself with the facts.


What is Fit Tea?

According to the company’s website, Fit Tea claims to be a “detoxifying tea blend of certified organic herbs which are formulated to enhance your weight management program as part of a healthy diet and exercise regimen.”

A number of products on the website tend to give the impression they will “detox” and help you burn fat. The tea contains a combination of caffeinated ingredients, diuretics, and other herbs with a variety of effects.


Fit Tea ingredients list

There are 13 ingredients in Fit Tea products combined into 5g tea bags.

fit tea ingredients list

Fit Tea Ingredients List

The exact quantities of each ingredient are not stated on the label, so we are not able to compare each of them to other published studies.

Organic green tea

Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite.

Oolong Wu Yi

Oolong tea contains caffeine which will give you a feeling of alertness. It may also exert a diuretic effect on your body which will make you pee more.

Garcinia Cambogia Extract

Garcinia Cambogia, also known as the Malabar tamarind, contains hydroxycitric acid, or HCA. It has been touted as a “fat-burner” supplement but no significant body of evidence conclusively supports this effect.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate contains chemicals which may exert an antioxidant effect in the body and help combat atherosclerosis and cancer, but it’s not known if these effects are conferred when consumed in liquid form.

Organic Rooibos

Rooibos is an African tea that is red in colour. Pronounced “roy-boss” and means “red bush” in the Afrikaans language. It is caffeine free, contains valuable antioxidants, and may protect you against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Ginger

Ginger can have a laxative effect on the body by stimulating the bowels and may be useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea. It may also promote fluid loss as a diuretic. Ginger might also stimulate appetite which may counter other ingredients in the teas that decrease appetite.

Stevia

Stevia is a sugar substitute extracted from the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. Steviol glycosides are the active compounds and have 30 to 150 times the sweetness of regular sugar.

Honey

Honey is used as a sweetener in many products. There are varying degrees of honey quality but it’s not known exactly what type of honey is used in Fit Tea and what its specific nutrient profile is.

Guarana

Guarana contains the central nervous system stimulants caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine. Similar to yerba mate, guarana can increase your heart rate and blood pressure.

Citric Acid

Despite its chemical-sounding name (oh nooo chemicals!), citric acid is just a light acid commonly found in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. Citric acid is commonly used as a preservative in food products.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is a fancy name for salt or sodium chloride (NaCl). Salt has been used since ancient times as a food preservative due to its ability to absorb water and repel bacteria.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice as a food additive offers a tangy flavour to food products and, by virtue of its citric acid content, may also serve as a preservative against spoilage.

Matcha Green Tea

Matcha green tea contains caffeine but boasts a more level, even-keel sort of high compared to standard coffee’s jolt. Like other classes of green tea, it also contains the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which may have protective effects against cancer.

More ingredient information

Also be sure to check out Joe Cannnon’s comprehensive Fit Tea review (here) which discusses the ingredients in greater detail.


Fit Tea Clinical Studies

To my knowledge, there are no independent published scientific studies on the Fit Tea product.

On the company website, they provide a small write-up of a single Fit Tea-sponsored study, but there is no mention as to if/where this study was published (if at all).

Publication in a reputable scientific journal is important because it means the study has been reviewed by independent experts to make sure it isn’t junk science.

I break down this “study” below in detail and provide a critical interpretation of the results.

Study design and methods

Fifty participants (41 women and 9 men) between the ages of 18 and 60 years were recruited for the study.

It was a non-experimental study design looking at the effects of FitTea 28 Day Detox tea to:

  1. Aid in weight loss (primary outcome measure); and
  2. Increase energy levels, concentration levels, and decreasing appetite (secondary outcome measures)

A physical exam was conducted on study participants which included:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Blood thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels
  • Complete blood count
  • Metabolic and lipid levels
  • DEXA scan for body composition
  • 1-10 Likert scale questionnaire to assess appetite, energy, concentration, and adverse events

Study results

Body weight

According to the website, of the 50 individuals, 25 or 50% had lost weight (-0.5 lbs [or 0.23 kg]) within the first 14 days, and 33 or 66% had lost weight (-2 lbs [or 0.91 kg]) within the 28-day period.

Of the 33 participants who lost weight, 24 participants or 72.7% lost 3 or more pounds (1.36 kg), and 14 or 42.4% of those lost 5 or more pounds (2.26 kg) by the end of the study.

Energy, concentration and appetite

For the secondary outcome measures, 43/50 participants stated they had increased energy levels, 42/50 stated they had increased concentration levels, and 47/50 experienced a decrease in appetite.

Side effects

12 participants experienced self-resolving side effects which included:

  • Bloating
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Other (not defined)

Study limitations

If you’re a layperson reading these results, you might think, “Great, people lost weight. Good enough for me,” but not so quick. You have to look at these results carefully and consider the following limitations:

1) No control group

The study had no control group to compare results. While the authors reported that people “lost weight,” we have no idea how these results would have compared to an age- and gender-matched control group. In many studies, reductions in body weight can occur in both the experimental and control groups due to things like inadvertently or purposely eating less or doing more exercise.

2) No accounting for exercise/activity levels

There was no mention if the research team controlled for activity levels. We know that when people participate in weight loss studies, there can be either an inadvertent or deliberate attempt to enhance weight loss by adding in more exercise and/or incidental movement (i.e., walking or standing more).

3) No accounting for diet

There was no mention if the research team controlled for dietary variations. As with physical activity, when people know they’re under the microscope, they can sometimes moderate their food intake which will result in enhanced weight loss (these “results” can then be erroneously attributed to the intervention).

4) Predominantly female participants

41 out of 50 participants (82%) were female. Because there can be hormonal differences between the genders which impact weight gain or loss, it would have been more prudent to focus only on female or male participants, or at least have the results stratified by gender rather than lumping them altogether.

5) A wide age range

Participants ranged from age 18 to 60 years. This is a reasonably large age range and, given that there are age-related hormonal changes and differences in lean mass (i.e., muscle). Having them all lumped together may provide a skewed picture of the results. We don’t know who the responders were (i.e., younger versus older participants, which genders, etc).

6) No explanation for changes in body weight

The authors reported a range of “weight loss” but did not provide any DEXA body composition results to explain the said weight loss. Given that the product contains mild laxative and diuretic ingredients, it is plausible that the said weight loss might have been, in part, fecal and fluid waste. If participants were cutting food intake or increasing their activity levels, this would also have enhanced the weight loss effect. In the absence of any concrete body composition data, a simple before and after scale weight is not very informative.

7) No mention of blood biomarker results

The study authors mentioned that bloods were drawn, but these were completely omitted from the write-up. It would be helpful to see the participants’ pre and post-study blood biomarker values to determine how this product affected blood sugars, lipids, etc. When it comes to research, authors should disclose all results, including the good, bad, and ugly (i.e., results which don’t “look good” shouldn’t be omitted as inconvenient truths). It would be helpful to know why Fit Tea has not disclosed the entire results of their study.

8) Broken images in the result section

On the results page, there are a number of broken images (i.e., graphs, tables) which presumably offer more information on the study results. It would be helpful for the company to fix these errors and provide full disclosure of ALL the results.


Fit Tea review of marketing claims

Fit Tea makes a number of marketing claims but is there any evidence to support them?

 

Fit Tea Health Claims

Image: Fit Tea Health Claims. Credit: Fit Tea website

Claim 1: “Reduce your bloating”

Before we discuss this claim, it’s important to provide some operational definitions for the word bloating.

Actual bloating, as in fluid retention, is a real and biologically normal thing, but tends to be transient and self-resolving.

“Bloating,” on the other hand, is also a cutesy and ambiguous marketing euphemism for having some extra body fat in those undesirable trouble spots.

Whatever your definition of “bloating,” it is important that you compare your expectations on what the product can deliver against the product claims.

Any product which contains diuretics and laxatives will make you urinate and defecate more frequently. You will “lose weight” on the scale, but it’s important not to confuse this with fat loss. You will replace the lost fluid and fecal waste with your next meal (remember, your body weight fluctuates every day with meals, drinks, and your normal bladder and bowel movements).

Claim 2: “Support your metabolism”

The phrase “support your metabolism” is an ambiguous and misleading marketing phrase that can mean different things to different people.

Do they mean “increases your metabolism?” “Makes you burn more fat?” Fit Tea should be specific with this claim and explain to consumers exactly what they can expect.

The “research” study on their website did not include any outcome measures or results related to metabolism so, to the best of my knowledge, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

The product does contain caffeine which could theoretically provide an increase in calorie burn – but not so fast. An article published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism found that 12 healthy young male volunteers who consumed 200 mg of caffeine increased their metabolism by a negligible 13 calories – in other words, pretty much nothing.

Moreover, because we don’t know the EXACT AMOUNT of caffeine contained in the product, we cannot conclusively state what effect the product would have on metabolism.

Claim 3: “Detoxify your system”

I’ll be blunt: this is a false claim.

Like with “bloating” and “support your metabolism,” “detox” is a popular and ill-defined marketing term used on a number of “teatox” products, including Fit Tea.

“Detoxify your system” of what exactly? Fit Tea, please tell us the names of these toxins? Are we talking hexavalent chromium? Lead? Mercury? What’s the story?

If you don’t specifically know which toxins or how many/how much are in your body before you start drinking the tea, and you don’t have a measure of toxins after you’ve drunk the tea, then how do you KNOW it’s “detoxifying” you?

The truth? Spoiler alert: “detox” teas don’t detox you. Period.

If you have a working liver and two normally functioning kidneys, then your body can “detox” itself. Defecation and urination are normal bodily functions, not “detoxification.”

Claim 4: “Decrease your water retention”

As with the bloating claim, the diuretics will make you pee a bit more and may result in less water retention… temporarily. This is only a cosmetic effect that will disappear once you stop taking the tea and drink water (or other fluids) again.

Claim 5: “Cleanse your digestive system”

The laxative effect of some ingredients will make you defecate more frequently but, to be clear, this should not be confused with “cleaning your digestive system.” It’s just a normal bodily function.

By this logic, eating a big T-bone steak will eventually need to come out the other end too. Does this mean that a T-bone steak is “cleansing your digestive system.”

Bottom line: your digestive system is already a self-cleaning model that really doesn’t need any help under normal circumstances.

Claim 6: “Clinical studied” [sic]

The company claims that Fit Tea “contains ingredients that are ‘clinically researched’ to help burn calories.” They then provide a list of links to a number of legitimate research articles on the effects of green tea and green tea extract on different health biomarkers.

Piggybacking these studies is misleading because the published research used specific quantities of green tea or green tea extract whereas Fit Tea has an unknown amount of green tea mixed with 12 other ingredients. In other words, there is no way to know what effects, if any, are attributable to green tea versus other ingredients.

Also remember that the terms “clinically proven” really don’t mean much in a marketing sense. This phrase can mean different things to different people and there is no standardised definition or regulation of its use. See my article here on what “clinically proven” really means.


Fit Tea side effects

Fit Tea is essentially a combination of laxatives, diuretics, and mild stimulants. For the most part, it probably won’t do you any harm unless you abuse it in large doses (please don’t do this).

In the company-sponsored “research” study published on the Fit Tea website, of the 50 participants, 12 complained of a number of self-resolving side effects including:  bloating, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and “other” undefined side effects.

In other words, about 1 in 4 users may experience side effects from Fit Tea.


Potential risks and warnings

It is important to remember that when it comes to herbal products, the risk may be low but is never zero. If you have medical issues or are taking medications, you should consult your doctor to ensure herbal products are safe and there are no herb-medicine interactions.

Interactions

Garcinia cambogia

Fit Tea contains garcinia cambogia which may have possible interactions with:

  • Asthma and allergy medicines such as Accolate and Singulair
  • Diabetes medicines, including pills and insulin
  • Iron, for anemia
  • Pain medicines
  • Prescriptions for psychiatric conditions
  • Statins, drugs that lower cholesterol
  • Warfarin, a blood thinner

Guarana

Guarana contains the central nervous system stimulants caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine. Similar to yerba mate, guarana can jack up your heart rate and blood pressure. If you have a heart condition (or are at risk of heart problems or stroke), you should discuss the tea ingredients with your doctor to ensure it is safe for you.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate may decrease blood pressure so if you are already taking blood pressure-lowering medications, this could potentially cause your blood pressure to bottom out (i.e., go too low and make you feel dizzy or pass out).

Pomegranate may decrease the speed at which the liver metabolises rosuvastatin (Crestor), thus increasing the effects and side effects of the medication.

Pomegranate might decrease how quickly your liver breaks down some medications, which can increase some effects and side effects.

Bottom line: speak with your health care professional about use of detox teas and their potential effects on your medications.

Other considerations

Dehydration

Fit Tea contains mild diuretics and laxative ingredients. If used as indicated, you are not likely to experience dehydration. However, if for whatever reason you experience diarrhea or vomiting, discontinue the product and seek medical help if it does not resolve on its own.

Electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies

The diuretic effect of the tea could contribute to dehydration if you abuse the product. If you have diarrhoea, then it could further hasten dehydration and contribute to an electrolyte imbalance and nutrient deficiencies.

Reduction in bowel movements

Detox teas should only be used for the short term and as indicated. Long term use could result in your body habituating to the laxative effect which may lead to a reduction in bowel motility (leading to intestinal paralysis, lazy gut, and IBS) and make you dependent on the tea for normal bowel movements. If you’re having problems with your bowel movements after using the tea, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.

Weight loss abuse

Because “detox teas” promote “weight loss” through increased urine and fecal loss, consumers obsessed with quick-fix weight loss products may be at higher risk for abuse. If you’re the parent of a teen with body image issues, you should pay particular attention to their use of the products.


Pricing

How much does Fit Tea cost? According to the company website, the tea will set you back anywhere from $25 to $45 USD.

  • 14 Day Detox – 24.99 USD
  • 28 Day Detox – 44.99 USD
  • Fit Tea Sticks – 24.99 USD

If you’re buying it within the United States, then shipping is free, but will cost you $10 USD for international shipping to overseas locations.


Refund policy

Fit Tea will only cancel your order before processing and will refund your payment.

Satisfaction guarantee

I did not find any information regarding a satisfaction guarantee or product returns if you tried the product and are unhappy with it.


Does Fit Tea work? The verdict

Whether or not Fit Tea actually “works” depends on your own personal definition of the words “detox” and “cleanse.” If you consider urine and feces to be “toxins” then, sure, diuretics and laxatives will do the trick. But it’s unlikely to fix that KGB polonium poisoning thing you’ve been dealing with.

Will you “lose weight?” Sure. The more time you spend on the toilet, the more “weight” you will lose. But if you have an expectation of losing stored body fat, well, that’s going to take a bit of commitment to changing your diet and physical activity habits.

Will it jack up your metabolism into a raging inferno? Unless it’s packed with 1000 mg or more of caffeine, probably not. And even if it bumps up your body temperature a notch, it’s unlikely to result in any appreciable fat loss.

Bottom line: spend your money on whatever the heck your want, but make sure you are making an educated buying decision and putting your safety above all else.

Remember there are no “teatoxes” on the market that actually “detox” you (for real). If you’re looking to lose stored body fat and get healthier, then the scientifically-proven healthy lifestyle foundations still hold true: eat a nutrient-rich diet that contains lots of fruits and veggies, limit alcohol intake, do regular physical activity, get adequate sleep, and reduce stress.

Sometimes the basics are all you really need…and they’re a lot cheaper!

Skinny Teatox Review | Will It “Detox” You? Help You Lose Weight?

Skinny Teatox Review | Will It “Detox” You? Help You Lose Weight?

Skinny Teatox claims their teas will “detox” and “cleanse” your body.

As of 2019, they boast that they are the “number one teatox in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Singapore, Netherlands, and France” and highlight that their products are “made with 100% natural ingredients that promote good health and weight loss.”

They also claim their teas can “burn calories, suppress appetite, and boost metabolism and energy levels.”

Sounds great, but is it all just marketing hot air and hype? Is there really any evidence that you can “detox” yourself plus all these other benefits just by drinking a tea?  Are there any potential health risks? Or is this just yet another golden unicorn to piss away your money?

In this review, I will put Skinny Teatox under the microscope and evaluate their marketing claims, break down the ingredients, and weigh out the potential risk for side effects.


Also check out my SkinnyMint Teatox review and Fit Tea review.

What does “detox” actually mean anyway?

Before we get into Skinny Teatox’s specific marketing claims, it’s important to look at the marketing juggernaut that is the word “detox.”

What is “detox” and why is it plastered all over different products these days?

skinny teatox

Popularised by questionable internet personalities such as self-styled toxin-hunter Vani Hari (aka Food Babe), the term “detox” has been recklessly bandied around with little consideration for accuracy of use – and frankly, it’s terrifying consumers. But if you buy into the hype, then you are fat, tired, and unhealthy because “dangerous toxins” have accumulated in your body.

Scary stuff. If only it were true.

Scott Gavura eloquently provides a real definition for detox in a recent article on Science-Based Medicine:

“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. Drugs used for real detoxification are not ingredients in a smoothie.

Categorical review of Skinny Teatox marketing claims

skinny teatox purported benefits

Skinny Teatox makes explicit claims on its website that the product can not only “detoxify” and “cleanse” you but will also cause you to “lose weight, burn calories, increase your energy levels, and keep your appetite in check.”

But are these claims truthful and can the product actually deliver?

Claim 1: “Detoxify”

“Detox” is the primary marketing claim found across the Skinny Teatox website. But nowhere on the website did I find any mention of specifically WHICH “toxins” the tea actually “detoxifies.” This is a critical piece of information. Are we talking about hexavalent chromium? Lead? Mercury? What’s the story?

How can you KNOW if the tea is actually working?  If you don’t know specifically which toxins were talking about, how much or how many are in your body before you start drinking the tea, and you don’t have a measure after you’ve drunk the tea, then how do you know it’s “detoxifying” you?

Claim 2: “Cleanse”

Following on from “detox” above, Skinny Teatox claims their teas will “cleanse” you too. To me, this sounds like similar marketing jargon that goes hand in hand with “detox.” Remember there is no legal or standardised definition for “detox” or “cleanse” in a marketing context, so they can be used any which way a company pleases.

And for all this “detox” talk out there, remember your body has its own built-in filters your, liver, lungs, spleen, and kidneys. But wait, don’t my body’s filters get gunked up with “toxins” and need a good “cleansing?”  Unless you’re eating a steady diet of heavy metals and other known pollutants, probably not.  You can learn more about this here.

It’s also important to note that many of the ingredients in Skinny Teatox teas are both laxatives and diuretics. If your body’s bowel and bladder movements are normal, then you are naturally “detoxing” and “cleansing” yourself without the need of teas.


Claim 3: “Lose weight”

I believe this claim is truthful, but it deviates from what consumers expectations might actually be. I don’t think there is any question that you will “lose weight” if you are drinking teas loaded with laxatives and diuretics.

However, for many people that want to “lose weight,” their expectation is that they would like to reduce body fat from those trouble spots like the hips, thighs, belly, and arms. And one of the quickest methods to check for “weight loss” is the woefully misleading bathroom scale. Unfortunately, the bathroom scale gives you absolutely no indication if you’re losing fat, muscle, water, or anything else for that matter.

Bottom line: Can Skinny Teatox cause you to “lose weight?”  Yes.  Mainly in the form of water and feces.

Can Skinny Teatox cause you to “lose fat?” Unlikely. You might lose fat if you’re eating a healthier diet and exercising whilst drinking the teas, but the results would mostly be due to your change in lifestyle over the teas.

For more information on this, please read my articles on healthy body fat and permanent fat loss.

Claim 4: “Burn calories, boost metabolism, increase energy levels”

There are countless products on the market that claim they can help you “burn calories, boost metabolism, and increase energy levels.” Sounds great, but is it true? Yes, no, and kinda maybe based on your expectations.

Yes, it is true that Skinny Teatox products contain caffeine in the form of tea leaves and this may cause a small increase in how many calories you burn. It might also make you feel more alert much like you would after drinking a regular cup of tea or coffee.

But now we have to look at these claims in a practical context rather than a technicality.

“Boost metabolism?” Translated to plain English, a “boost” in metabolism means that a person’s calorie burn should increase and remain elevated after drinking the tea. But exactly how many calories are we talking about? And how long is this elevation in metabolism? What evidence is this based on? Not much.

I performed a search of the medical journal databases and was unable to find a single study on Skinny Teatox that related to its effects on metabolism and calorie burning.

I did, however, find an article in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism which found that 12 healthy young male volunteers who consumed 200 mg of caffeine increased their metabolism by approximately 7% (or 13 calories in absolute terms).

Bottom line: “technically” yes, caffeine will bump up your metabolism, but unlikely in any noticeable or meaningful way that it will cause you to shed copious amounts of fat. And since we do not know the actual amount of caffeine in Skinny Teatox, there is no way to know to what extent these findings apply, if at all.

Claim 5: “Suppress appetite”

This claim is true. Skinny Teatox contains caffeine, along with ginseng, dandelion, liquorice, green tea, cinnamon, and cloves, all of which may exert an appetite suppressant effect in the body. This is desirable for people trying to lose weight.


Skinny Teatox ingredients list

Skinny Teatox claims their ingredients are “100% natural with no chemicals or preservatives.” I was unable to find a complete ingredients list for each of the listed teas, but was able to scrape together this comprehensive list from their website and also by sending the company an email request for ingredients.

Tea leaves

Standard tea leaves contain caffeine which might make you feel more alert and suppress appetite.

Green tea

Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite.

Senna leaf 

Senna‘s active constituents are called sennosides which stimulate the bowel and causes a laxative effect.

Ginseng

It is not clear which type of ginseng is used in Skinny Teatox products, but the effects can vary from one species of ginseng to another.

Licorice

Licorice may help people with irritable bowel syndrome by soothing inflamed tissue, helping to relax muscles, and exerting a mild laxative effect on the bowels.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum tea has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects in clinical trials (here and here).

Cinnamon bark

Cinnamon bark may be helpful for soothing irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhoea, and bloating. There is inconclusive evidence on its effects on appetite, with some research showing it can increase appetite and other reports showing the opposite.

Cloves

Cloves are used for upset stomach and may relieve intestinal gas, nausea, and diarrhoea.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb exerts a laxative effect for the relief of constipation but care must be taken, as a high enough dose can induce diarrhoea as a side effect. Rhubarb may also be helpful for a number of other gastrointestinal disturbances like heart burn, stomach discomfort, a

Ginger

Ginger may exert a laxative effect on the body by stimulating the bowels and may be useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea. It may also promote fluid loss as a diuretic. Ginger might also stimulate appetite which may counter other ingredients in the teas that decrease appetite.

Buckthorn bark

Buckthorn bark contains chemicals which have a laxative effect for constipation relief.

Dandelion leaves

Dandelion leaves may exert a diuretic (makes you pee) and laxative effect to increase bowel movements. It may also increase appetite.

Lemongrass 

Lemongrass may help improve digestive tract spasms and relieve stomach aches.

Burdock root

Burdock root has a diuretic effect on the body which will promote weight loss (not fat loss).

Peppermint leaves

Peppermint leaves may be helpful for digestive problems such as heartburn, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome. Depending on the dose, it could have a laxative effect on the body.

Rosehips

The fruit acids and pectin in rosehips may exert a mild diuretic and laxative effect. Rosehips might also help settle your stomach from irritation.

Safflower

Safflower may help improve blood lipid profiles and may possibly exert a laxative effect.

Cornflower

Cornflower may exert a diuretic and laxative effect to reduce water retention and relieve constipation, respectively.

Turmeric 

Turmeric may be helpful for irritable bowel syndrome, stomach discomfort, and diarrhoea.

Natural lemon flavouring

I don’t have any other information from the company as to exactly what this means.

How Does Skinny Teatox Work?

According to the Skinny Teatox website, the morning tea is a “stimulant and gives you a steady and constant supply of energy throughout the day, increases your metabolism, and aids with appetite suppression.”

The evening tea purportedly “cleanses and detoxifies your body” and cleanses the colon to “flush out your digestive tract of toxins and unwanted excess which could be making it more difficult for you to lose weight.”

Given the number of diuretic and laxative ingredients, Skinny Teatox works by making you pee and poo a heck of a lot more than usual. This would explain the “weight loss” (notice I did not say fat loss).

If you define “detox” and “cleanse” as running to the toilet more frequently, then yes, maybe it’s “working” but it’s unlikely to be detoxifying you in any clinically meaningful definition of the word.

Any increase in metabolism or calorie burn is questionable and will likely be dose-dependent. You might burn an extra 15 calories but in practical terms it will have no significant effect on your body fat levels.


Are there any side effects?

Skinny Teatox and other similar products on the market are unlikely to cause harm when used as directed (and for the short term). But there is always a potential for side effects.

Dehydration

First, senna leaves and a number of other ingredients in the tea exert a laxative effect on the body that could lead to diarrhoea and possibly dehydration, particularly if you are consuming a lot of the tea and leaving the bag in the water for longer than recommended.

Electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies

Second, the combined diuretic effect of many of the ingredients could further promote dehydration. If you have diarrhoea, then it could further hasten dehydration and contribute to a dangerous electrolyte imbalance and nutrient deficiencies.

Low blood pressure

Third, if you have cardiovascular disease and are taking medications that promote fluid loss, then the tea could have a compounding effect which might further lower your blood pressure and make you susceptible to dizziness and fainting.

Reduction in birth control effectiveness

Fourth, by Skinny Teatox’s own admission, the teas “can potentially reduce the effectiveness of birth control if you take your pill within 4-5 hours of the laxative effect.”

Reduction in bowel movements

Fifth, the tea should be used for the short term. Long term use could result in your body habituating to the laxative which may lead to a reduction in bowel motility (leading to intestinal paralysis, lazy gut, and IBS) and make you dependent on the tea for normal bowel movements. If you’re having problems with your bowel movements after using the tea, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.

Weight loss abuse

Sixth, because the teas promote “weight loss” through increased urine and feces loss, consumers obsessed with quick-fix weight loss products may be at higher risk for abuse. If you’re the parent of a teen with body image issues, you should pay particular attention to their use of the products.

The fine print: Skinny Teatox “results not typical”

Skinny Teatox is quick put the brakes on too much enthusiasm. On their website they state:

Testimonials, reviews and images found at Skinny-Teatox.com and/or from Skinny Teatox are unverified results that have been forwarded to us by users of our products; may not reflect the typical user experience; may not apply to the average person; and are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results. You should always perform your own research and not take such results at face value. It is possible that even with perfect use of our products, you will not achieve the results described or shown. They are meant to be a showcase of the best results our products have produced, and should not be taken as the results a typical user will get.

In my opinion, if “results are not typical” then it’s misleading to only highlight the small proportion of anomalous testimonials that had great “results.”

It’s these types of disclaimers that make me think what we really need is a “detox” from advertising bullish*t. International laws should “cleanse” marketing claims to better protect consumers from being misled by myth, innuendo, and half-truths.

Does Skinny Teatox work? The verdict

Whether or not Skinny Teatox actually “works” depends on your individual definition of the words “detox” and “cleanse.” If you consider urine and feces to be “toxins” then, sure, diuretics and laxatives will do the trick. But it’s unlikely to fix that little mercury poisoning thing you’ve been dealing with.

You’re going to get real cozy with your toilet while using the product and you probably will “lose weight.”  But if your expectation is that you’re going to lose stored body fat, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. It won’t turn your metabolism into a raging inferno, nor will it send your energy levels spiking through the roof.


You’re free to spend your money on whatever you please, but remember that no teatox on the market is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a nutrient-rich diet, doing regular physical activity, getting adequate sleep, and reducing stress.

In closing, my final recommendation actually comes directly from Skinny Teatox website:

Skinny Teatox should not replace a healthy diet or exercise! Use your head, and continue to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, eat the recommended amount of calories per day, and be happy with who you are.

I couldn’t agree more.

SkinnyMint Teatox Review | A Detox from Toxic Marketing

SkinnyMint Teatox Review | A Detox from Toxic Marketing

If you’re a woman between 18 and 44 years of age, then you’ve no doubt seen SkinnyMint Teatox ads in your social feeds – over and over and over again.

Chances are, you’re being regularly micro-targeted until maybe, just maybe, you start to believe that “detox” comes in a tea.

If so, then you really need to read this article.

There are lots of grandiose marketing claims floating around cyberspace, much of it downright confusing, and some of it simply deceptive.

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to:

  • Explain what SkinnyMint Teatox is;
  • Break down the ingredients and their effects on your body;
  • Evaluate and discuss the veracity of the marketing claims;
  • Discuss side effects and safety concerns; and
  • Provide a closing summary of the facts

Also check out my Skinny Teatox review and Fit Tea review.

What is SkinnyMint Teatox?

According to the company website, the 28 Day Ultimate Teatox is a two-step morning and night tea detox program:

The Morning Boost is designed to give you a boost throughout the day and start the morning right. It contains Green Tea, Yerba Mate and Guarana with a naturally sweet fruity taste. It can replace your daily morning coffee/black tea.

The Night Cleanse is designed to naturally purify the body which could lead to reduced bloating. It contains all natural ingredients to promote the restoration process. It is the perfect bedtime ritual, take one every alternate night.”

Right, so what the heck is in it anyway?

SkinnyMint ingredients list 

There are a lot of “teatoxes” out on the market these days and it’s important to think safety first and spend the time investigating a product’s ingredients before putting it in your body.

I’ve done most of the legwork for you below and have included links to more detailed information.

Morning boost ingredients

SkinnyMint Teatox Review

Credit: SkinnyMint website

Green tea leaf

Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite.

Yerba mate leaf

Yerba mate leaf is a caffeine-containing central nervous system stimulant. It might make you feel more mentally alert and can bump up your heart rate and blood pressure. Note: if you have any underlying heart problems, talk to your doctor before taking this product.

Nettle leaf

Nettle leaf, also known as stinging nettle, has a diuretic and laxative effect in the body.

Dandelion leaf

Dandelion leaf may exert a diuretic (makes you pee) and laxative effect to increase bowel movements. It may also increase appetite.

Guarana seed

Guarana contains the central nervous system stimulants caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine. Similar to yerba mate, guarana can jack up your heart rate and blood pressure.

Night cleanse ingredients

SkinnyMint Teatox Review

Credit: SkinnyMint website

Senna leaf 

Senna‘s active constituents are called sennosides which stimulate the bowel and causes a laxative effect.

Ginger root

Ginger may exert a laxative effect on the body by stimulating the bowels and may be useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea. It may also promote fluid loss as a diuretic. Ginger might also stimulate appetite which may counter other ingredients in the teas that decrease appetite.

Orange leaf 

Orange leaves may exert a mild laxative effect on the body.

Lemongrass leaf

Lemongrass leaf may help improve digestive tract spasms and relieve stomach aches.

Peppermint leaf

Peppermint leaf may be helpful for digestive problems such as heartburn, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome. Depending on the dose, it could have a laxative effect on the body.

Licorice root

Licorice root may help people with irritable bowel syndrome by soothing inflamed tissue, helping to relax muscles, and exerting a mild laxative effect on the bowels.

Hawthorn berry

Hawthorn berry is known to be a potent diuretic (which makes you pee) and may have value in patients with congestive heart failure by reducing water retention.

Psyllium seed

Psyllium seed is a bulk-forming laxative which soaks up water in your large intestines to make bowel movements easier.

Categorical review of SkinnyMint marketing claims

SkinnyMint claims that its teatox “reduces bloat and boosts energy,” is “designed for real results in 28 days,” and is an “all natural cleansing formula.”

If you’re trying to “lose weight” then this might be music to your eyes, but before you pull out your credit card, you need to first consider the phrasing and what it means to you versus what the product can actually deliver.

SkinnyMint Teatox Review

Claim 1: “Reduces bloat and boosts energy*

I’ll break this up into two parts for clarity.

“Reduces bloat”

This is where the marketing sleight of hand comes into play. It’s not what you’re being told but instead what you’re led to believe – or can make yourself believe.

First, the company does not specifically define what they mean by the term “bloat.” Bloat is plastered across a lot of different weight loss products these days and can mean a lot of different things to different people. Does it mean fat? Water retention? Glycogen storage?

In looking at the website, the company is very careful not to explicitly make weight loss (or fat loss) claims because that would be illegal.

No problem. Break out the testimonials.

At the bottom of the page, there are a number of before and after pictures of different women claiming the product did indeed result in weight loss specifically as a result of using the product (without mentioning which diet and exercise changes they made).

SkinnyMint Teatox Testimonials

Credit: SkinnyMint website

Taking on board the SkinnyMint’s vague claims and the more explicit testimonials, a reasonable person looking at the website in its entirety might assume that “bloat” means fat. And by using this teatox, it will result in bloat (fat/weight) loss.

So can SkinnyMint cause fat loss? Highly unlikely. As with all “teatox” programs, they are full of both diuretics and laxatives which will result in “weight loss” in the form of urine and feces. But as a stand alone product, it is not likely to result in any noticeable change in body fat.

If you are restricting your calorie intake and doing more exercise than you were before, then you will lose stored body fat. If this happens to occur in conjunction with taking a teatox product, then you might fool yourself into thinking your fat loss was solely the result of drinking a tea – instead of all your hard work.

To wrap up this point, I cannot stress this enough when I say there IS a difference between “weight loss” and “fat loss.” Anyone can “lose weight” by starving themselves or downing diuretic- and laxative-laden teas, but losing fat safely and effectively, and keeping it off, is something that happens slowly over time.

Read my article on 13 fat loss principles for losing fat and keeping it off.

“Boosts energy”

This claim is misleading because “boosts energy” is not well-defined and can also mean different things to different people.

The product contains only 2 calories per teabag so it clearly has no caloric energy value in the way food has energy (i.e., carbohydrates: 4 calories/gram, protein: 4 calories/gram, fat: 9 calories/gram).

To be more accurate, the “energy” you’re getting from SkinnyMint is not actually energy at all. It is simply a stimulant effect from some of the caffeine-containing ingredients which may make you feel more alert.

Claim 2: “Designed for real results in 28 days*

This claim begets more questions. First, what does SkinnyMint mean by “real results?” Are they talking about weight loss? Fat loss? How much weight loss or fat loss?

And second, why 28 days? Why not 27 or 29 days?

Where did SkinnyMint come up with this number? Is it based on research? Is it just cutesy marketing similar to those 28 day fitness challenges?

I conducted a search of the biomedical databases and was unable to locate any scientific research on SkinnyMint.

It would be helpful if the company was more specific and transparent in its claims.

Claim 3: “All natural cleansing formula”

Just more vague and meaningless marketing bluster. First, “all natural” is yet another one of those marketing terms that means different things to different people.

In some readers’ eyes, “all natural” means safe and effective (as opposed to those “drugs” pushed by evil pharmaceutical cartels). However, this is not always the case and even “natural” remedies can have health risks too (can I interest you in a delicious cup of all natural hemlock, arsenic, and cobra venom tea?).

And what, specifically, does SkinnyMint mean by a “cleansing formula.” What is it actually “cleansing?” Is it “cleansing” your liver or any other organ?

To be clear, there is no such thing as “detoxing” or “cleansing,” as Scott Gavura points out in an article on Science-Based Medicine:

“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. Drugs used for real detoxification are not ingredients in a smoothie.

Damn you pesky asterisk!

And what about that pesky asterisk (*) after the claim? According to the SkinnyMint website:

*This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary from person to person and are not guaranteed.

English translation: “yes we’re kinda sorta making claims but not really, the FDA hasn’t reviewed our claims, and your “results,” whatever they may or may not be, may vary.”

SkinnyMint side effects and risks

SkinnyMint and other teatox products on the market are unlikely to cause harm when used as directed (and for the short term). But side effects are always a possibility.

Dehydration

First, senna leaves and a number of other ingredients in the tea exert a laxative effect on the body that could lead to diarrhoea and possibly dehydration, particularly if you are consuming a lot of the tea and leaving the bag in the water for longer than recommended.

Electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies

Second, the combined diuretic effect of many of the ingredients could further promote dehydration. If you have diarrhoea, then it could further hasten dehydration and contribute to a dangerous electrolyte imbalance and nutrient deficiencies. Moreover, if you are dieting and exercising a lot, this can hasten dehydration.

Low blood pressure

Third, if you have cardiovascular disease and are taking medications that promote fluid loss, then the tea could have a compounding effect which might further lower your blood pressure and make you susceptible to dizziness and fainting. Please consult your doctor if you have high blood pressure or any other cardiovascular disease.

Reduction in birth control effectiveness

Fourth, you should know that the laxative effect of these “teatoxes” can reduce the effectiveness of your birth control pills, particularly if you take your pills within 4 to 5 hours of using the tea.

Reduction in bowel movements

Fifth, the tea should be used for the short term. Long term use could result in your body adapting to the laxative which may lead to a reduction in bowel motility (leading to intestinal paralysis, lazy gut, and irritable bowel syndrome) and make you dependent on the tea for normal bowel movements. If you’re having problems with your bowel movements after using the tea, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.

Weight loss abuse

Sixth, because the teas promote “weight loss” through increased urine and feces loss, consumers obsessed with quick-fix weight loss products may be at higher risk for abuse. If you’re the parent of a teen with body image issues, you should pay particular attention to their use of the products.

How much does SkinnyMint Teatox cost?

If you’re looking to buy SkinnyMint, it isn’t cheap. It will cost you about $55 US dollars and $70 dollars in Australia if you buy it on their website. I’ve also seen it sold on Amazon at higher and lower price points.

Return / refund policy

There is a return policy, but there’s also a catch.

According to the website, you can return your order within 60 days of purchase, but it must be unopened and in the original packaging.

So if you try the product and don’t like it or get the “results” you were expecting, then tough luck, no refund for you.

If SkinnyMint wants to put its money where its mouth is, then they should be willing to offer refunds to unsatisfied customers.

Bottom line: Should you buy SkinnyMint Teatox?

I hate having to be the jerk that ruins all the fun, but please allow me to smack you in the face with a wet fish and state unequivocally that there is no such thing as a “detox tea” except perhaps in name and branding only.

Let’s be clear that the word “detox” and its taxonomic offspring “teatox” are marketing terms and have no scientific basis.

Neither SkinnyMint nor any other “teatox” on the market causes fat loss. If you’re expecting to lose fat with the product alone (without eating less and exercising), then you will be disappointed.

If you’re expecting to “lose weight,” the laxatives and diuretics will do that, but you can expect to gain it all back when you stop using the product.

Bottom line: if you insist on using this product, then make sure you do not have any underlying health issues and use it only for the short term (for reasons I listed in side effects and risks).

Is Your Fitness “Expert” an Expert or Just Full of Sh*t? Here’s How to Tell

Is Your Fitness “Expert” an Expert or Just Full of Sh*t? Here’s How to Tell

Editor’s note: Everyone’s a fitness expert these days…or so it might seem when scrolling through your social feeds loaded with “detoxes” and “cleanses.” But beyond the fake fitness news, alternative nutrition facts, and stage-managed social image crafting, what IS an expert anyway? A real expert who actually knows what they’re talking about. Who CAN you trust? Who SHOULD you trust?

In this guest post by Dan Jolley, MSc, professional strength and conditioning coach and doctoral researcher studying the fitness industry, he discusses personal training qualifications, knowledge, and what it truly means to be an expert. Will the real fitness experts please stand up!

Over to you Dan!
Bill


Before I start, I’ll preface my comments by saying that I come from a personal training background and by no means is this article a “hit job” on the entire industry or all personal trainers. It is, however, a warning shot across the bow of those who, with a little knowledge, think they’re experts on everything. Bad information promoted by the “experts” serves to undermine responsible public health messages, makes a joke of personal trainers, and further erodes the reputation of the fitness industry. So the purpose of this article is to call bullsh*t on the “experts” and encourage you to use critical thinking when seeking out reliable health and fitness information.

The fitness industry in recent years has been changing at a breakneck pace.

Some of this change has been for the better – public parks have outdoor exercise equipment, group exercise options have increased, some gyms are now paying attention to the benefit of social support for exercise adherence, and the recent proliferation of barbells, lifting platforms, and free weights warms the heart of a grizzled old athlete and coach like myself.

But there have also been changes which have made things downright confusing for people looking for good quality information.

How Do We Find Reliable Information?

The internet opened the flood gates and democratised the flow of information and, though information is far more accessible now than it was only a decade ago, the quality of this information varies greatly.

In fact, much of the health, fitness, and nutrition information found online is simply not trustworthy.  Most people tend to assess the quality of online information based on cognitive shortcuts known as “heuristics” (i.e., “hmm, this sounds intuitively logical to me, so therefore it must be true”), rather than a detailed examination of the quality of the information. And fair enough, it’s hard to know better if you don’t have a relevant science qualification! So how can you know what to trust?

Many people will look for someone who can interpret this information for them (and if you’re reading this article then, congratulations, you’ve already found an excellent resource in this site!)

But for many truth seekers, a highly accessible source of information is their personal trainer, the big guy who’s always at the gym, or the attractive girl that posts about nutrition on Instagram. Some of these people will even call themselves (or brand themselves) as “experts” or “gurus.”

fake health fitness expert

Figure 1- This man may be a fitness expert, but you certainly can’t tell from the information provided here. But as you can see, he is a popular source of information!

We’ve Seen How This Goes Wrong!

So just how trustworthy ARE these self-proclaimed health “experts”? Some recent controversies offer some clues.

Famously, there was Belle Gibson, the health blogger with no science qualifications who made false claims about having multiple cancers and “treating” them through nutrition. Her lies netted her a large amount of money which she has yet to repay despite a court order. For a fascinating read on this case, I can recommend the book The Woman Who Fooled The World by Nick Toscano.

More recently, blogger Olivia Budgen made the news for insensitive claims about cancer, then was rightly criticised on this very site for her attempted apology (sorry, not sorry). Olivia provides a great resource when she just sticks to posting recipe ideas. She has made an effort to improve the quality of her advice in recent times, providing references for her claims, and clear disclaimers in response to criticism from myself and others.

But Olivia does not appear to have any relevant health qualification (I’ve asked her about this in previous communication). She cherry picks evidence to support her opinions about the proposed health benefits of certain foods then extrapolates these findings too far.

Sometimes bad “expert” advice has potential to cause harm or even death. In 2015, Chef Pete Evans, despite having no tertiary health qualifications, drew widespread condemnation from public health professionals after releasing a cookbook for mums and babies with a DIY baby formula which contained 4.5 times the maximum vitamin A dose for a baby.

Be sure to check out Dr Tim Crowe’s excellent parody of dubious online health claims.

Fitness Gets It Wrong Too!

In the personal training world in the last 5 to 10 years, I’ve observed a trend of trainers programming and encouraging higher training intensities. This may take the form of hard intervals with heavily loaded sleds, battle ropes, or high volumes of plyometric exercise (bounding, jumping, etc.). And the assumption seems to be that everyone can benefit from this intensity regardless of whether they have a weight loss goal, a general fitness goal, or a more specific performance goal.

In fact, I’ve met trainers who are dismissive of steady state running (i.e. jogging) to assist in weight loss (or develop general fitness) despite the fact that the type of adaptation you receive from both resistance training and cardio training depends heavily on variables such as intensity and volume.

Research shows that short, very high intensity sessions may not achieve the best results for your needs, and tend to result in poorer exercise adherence. These “experts” also seem to be unaware that a well-developed aerobic fitness base (yes, even with low intensity running) can in fact improve your ability to recover between high intensity efforts.

As I mentioned in my CrossFit review on this site, as a coach, I program very different training to achieve different adaptations for different people. Furthermore, high intensity sessions may be contraindicated in those with multiple cardiac risk factors (which opens up a completely different discussion on the importance of pre-exercise risk stratification).

High Intensity Exercise - health fitness expert

Figure 2- high intensity alternatives to running are currently very popular, but don’t always provide the best result for your investment of time and effort.

But My Trainer Seems To Know…

So there’s a lot of questionable, if not bad, information out there, especially online, but aren’t fitness professionals trustworthy sources of information? Shouldn’t we be able to assume the personal trainer at your local gym is a helpful source of safe, effective advice?

Sometimes yes, but not always.

Over the last 15 years, a growing body of research has consistently demonstrated that personal trainers possess errors in their factual knowledge base (and sometimes serious errors in knowledge which I have discussed in a previous article). But even more concerning is the fact that, despite knowledge gaps, personal trainers tends to possess high levels of confidence in their knowledge.

Thorough interviews with personal trainers have shown that trainers tend to value on-the-job experience and mentoring from other professionals more than formal qualifications.

While these can certainly be valuable tools for professional development, recent Australian research showed that only about half of personal trainers used reliable sources of information (i.e., science journals, science text books).

So to summarise the research, we have a large proportion of personal trainers with:

  • potentially poor knowledge;
  • high levels of confidence;
  • little appreciation for qualifications; and
  • who rely on unreliable sources

What Qualifications Do Experts Have?

What qualifications do these “fitness experts” possess? Some of the better ones may have a relevant health science university degree. Many others will possess a personal training qualification (a Certificate IV in Fitness), which is the minimum entry level qualification required to gain accreditation with Fitness Australia. And some will possess nothing more than a blindingly white smile and a few years banging weights around the gym.

I’m in my 22nd year of study and/or work in the fitness industry and am working on my 3rd (and hopefully last) degree. But if I relied on this experience as an argument for why my opinion should be accepted without question, I would be committing an appeal to authority fallacy. (i.e., “take my word for it because I have degrees”).

In fact, it is all my years of work experience and university study that have given me an immense respect and humble appreciation for established evidence (as opposed to “bro science”). My education has taught me that, whilst I’ve learnt a lot along the way, there’s still so much MORE that I have yet to learn!

You will rarely see any of the advice I give to clients, students, or colleagues directly contradict the established science on a topic, and certainly not without copious amounts of high quality evidence to support my alternative claims.

Yes, science is always evolving and we must keep an open mind about new exercise and nutrition research, but not so open that our brains fall out and we become mouth pieces for pseudoscience and quackery. We must demand evidence over opinions no matter who is spouting off the latest greatest exercise or nutrition “breakthrough.”

A Common Example

Many self-styled “experts” are quick to dismiss heavily researched exercise and nutrition guidelines, which may not be consistent with popular fitness and nutrition trends (i.e., “detoxes” and “superfoods”). The argument is often this: “These nutrition guidelines have been around for a long time and yet people are getting fatter and fatter…therefore the guidelines are wrong.”

And they are partially correct, according to government statistics, obesity rates ARE on the rise. But the assumption that obesity rates continue to increase because of these guidelines is flawed. Assuming a cause and effect relationship from a mere association is a rookie mistake for any aspiring critical thinker.

spurious correlations

Figure 3- A good reminder that although somethings occur at the same time, or with one following the other, there is not necessarily a cause and effect relationship. Source: http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

In fact, the rising obesity rates are not because people are following these guidelines, but because they’re NOT following them. National Health Survey data shows us that very few people actually achieve the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables in their diet, instead choosing more energy dense options (i.e., burgers, chips, and fizzy drinks).

On top of that, people are not meeting the physical activity recommendations, with just over 50% self-reporting sufficient exercise.

Some of these “experts” also attack these guidelines for encouraging diets high in refined sugars but, in fact, guideline #3 specifically mentions limiting added sugars in the diet.

dietary guidelines

But Criticism Is Welcome

I need to state this clearly here: NO ideas are beyond criticism. We rightly SHOULD question exercise prescription and healthy eating guidelines. And we do, regularly.

In fact, in 2012 the physical activity recommendations in Australia were changed to increase the volume of recommended exercise, with specific mention of limiting screen time. The Australian Dietary Guidelines were updated in 2013 to: 1) increase their focus on maintaining an appropriate energy balance; and 2) reflect changing evidence about risks, and benefits, associated with consumption certain foods.

These changes are informed by mountains of evidence. Hundreds of scientific journal articles, each representing months or years of work by multiple scientists, are considered when these changes are made. And each article is carefully read and criticised by other scientists, multiple times, until they are considered worthy of publication. They are, in short, extraordinarily well-informed documents, designed to provide safe, effective advice to the majority of the population.

What Does Your “Expert” Think?

Now we get to the crux of the issue. What does your exercise or nutrition “expert” think of something as fundamental as healthy eating or physical activity advice? Do they dismiss these guidelines as irrelevant, out of date, or paid off by industry groups or “big pharma?”

There’s no doubt that we could find issues with individual pieces of evidence that inform these guidelines or even the motives of lobbyist groups, but to dismiss the whole body of research because of some cherry-picked examples that suit an argument is not rational.

That would be like throwing out everything we know about the effectiveness of vaccination because one piece of research by a now disgraced researcher with undisclosed conflicts of interest suggested vaccines were linked with autism… and as we know, that would never happen. Wait. Never mind.

There’s also no doubt that these recommendations do not apply to everyone. They are designed to be general, and simple enough, to apply to the vast majority of the population.

Certainly if you have medical issues, cultural preferences, or performance requirements, your needs may differ, and you should seek more specific advice.

Is Your “Expert” An Actual Expert?

Does your “expert”:

  1. Dismiss high quality research evidence, preferring their personal anecdotes, case studies, or one or two selected pieces of evidence? They are not an expert.
  2. Make alternative claims and/or promote questionable products and services (i.e., detoxes, cleanses, fat burning supplements) without providing any compelling body of supporting evidence? They are not an expert.
  3. Make judgements about the quality of scientific research, without holding a research qualification in a relevant field to be able to even read and understand the said research? They are not an expert.
  4. Use unreliable sources of information such as blogs, social media sites/apps, and websites that do not have clear author and reference information? They are not an expert.

Christopher Hitchens once said “what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” So your fitness or nutrition “expert” making an extravagant or controversial claim is no more deserving to be taken seriously than a flat earth proponent, anti-vaccination campaigner, or notorious Hollywood woo peddler Gwyneth Paltrow.

Show this article to your trainer and pay attention to their response. Are they dismissive of my support for established evidence? Ask why and, specifically, which evidence informs their opinions. Making a claim that contradicts established evidence carries quite a burden of proof!

Or do they claim that they are different because their years of experience mean they know more than younger trainers? This is not a strong claim. In fact, it is the same appeal to authority I was careful to avoid earlier. Early results from my doctoral research show that years of experience as a personal trainer have no impact on the knowledge personal trainers possess, but their level of education does.

To Sum It All Up

There is a growing body of evidence that many personal trainers use highly variable sources of information, and many also have inadequate knowledge about fundamental nutrition and exercise concepts. So choose your trainer wisely.

Pick someone who operates within their scope of practice, is humble about their knowledge, is prepared to adjust their opinion in the face of changing evidence, and who recognises that a Certificate IV in Fitness alone does not make them a “guru” or “expert” in any field of knowledge.

Yes, a trainer can be a great person and an excellent, highly skilled practitioner, but that does not make him/her an “expert.” And neither, for that matter, does a million Instagram followers.

Permanent Fat Loss Principles: The “Secret” is No Secret

Permanent Fat Loss Principles: The “Secret” is No Secret

Though you trudge away on the treadmill and scrape by on seeds and sprouts, the bathroom scale refuses to budge. But actually, the formula for fat loss is quite simple.

Self-proclaimed health “experts” and hokey fitness gimmick infomercial hosts promise you can cull the kilos (or pare away the pounds) by exercising only three minutes a day.

Then there’s the fine print: Losing “weight” is easy.   LOSING FAT and keeping it off can be downright difficult.  But don’t despair; there is hope! Arm yourself with these fat trimming lifestyle tips and keep it off for life!

Fat Loss Principles For Life

1) Banish Your Bathroom Scale

First things first: banish your bathroom scale and only take it out once every other week.  It is your fat loss foe! It is a traitor that will deceive you (unless you know how to keep it in line).

The media, food companies, and woo-pushing quacks have brainwashed everyone to focus on “weight loss” instead of FAT LOSS with little to no consideration for body composition. This sells products, but it’s the wrong message.

Anyone can “lose weight” by starving themselves on a fad diet but, while you might seemingly “lose weight” on the scale in the beginning, this is not fat loss. It’s mostly glycogen (stored carbohydrate in the muscle), water, muscle, and maybe a little fat.

And guzzling a so-called “skinny teatox” or “fit tea” loaded with laxatives and diuretics might fool you into thinking you’ve lost fat, but you’ll quickly regain the water and fecal weight as soon as you stop using it.


2) Buy Into Body Composition, Not Just Body Weight

Exercise. Focus on building and maintaining valuable muscle. Muscle is very metabolically active and pays a higher caloric “rent” to sustain itself (even at rest). Fat tissue, on the other hand, is something of a metabolic freeloader which burns comparatively fewer calories.

If after a few months your scale weight hasn’t changed much, you might notice that your clothes fit better.  This is usually a result of an increase in muscle and decrease in fat.

Have a look and compare these two cross sectional thigh scans.

thigh_with_fatthigh_with_fat2The first image shows a strong dense muscle with minimal fat penetrating into the muscle.  The second image shows a weak, wasting muscle which is infiltrated with fat.  The overall surface area is similar, but you can see the drastic difference in composition.

3) Don’t Trust Fibbing Exercise Machines 

Ever seen those “fat burning” or “cardio” buttons on treadmills and stationary bikes?  The irony is the so-called “fat burning” button can keep you fat and the cardio button will help trim your gut and butt.  This is where it gets confusing so pay attention.

In the image below, you can see that a lower intensity (lower VO2) burns proportionally more fat as a fuel source during exercise (fat burn button). The trade off is that you also burn less overall calories per unit of time compared to higher intensities.

At higher exercise intensities (cardio button), you burn more carbohydrate (sugar) as a fuel source (blue dots in the image), but you burn more calories per unit of time.

cho_percentages

Comparing apples to apples, if you did 10 minutes on the treadmill on the low-intensity fat loss setting versus 10 minutes on the the higher-intensity cardio setting, you’d actually be better served by the cardio setting.

Independent of the fuel source during exercise, your overall energy (calorie) expenditure is higher. The energy deficit created by exercise is later justified by the body pulling fat out of storage (even when not exercising).

In the long-term, you are served much better by exercising at higher intensities per unit of time and maximizing the energy burn than focusing on which fuel source you’re using during exercise.   The overall CUMULATIVE calorie deficit is what matters and that’s what’s going to have you looking good for the long haul!

If you’re new to exercise and out of shape, then you may need to start off at a slow pace in order to allow your body to adapt.  Progress slowly and work up to higher intensities over time to maximise intensity to enhance energy expenditure.

4) Build Your Fitness Foundation

Following on from above, if you’re completely new to exercise, develop your fitness foundation slowly and gradually progress to higher intensities. Doing too much too soon may leave you sore and discourage you from continuing. Check out my 10 quick tips to get off the exercise rollercoaster and set your fitness foundation in stone.

Start off at a leisurely pace on the bike or treadmill for no more than 20 minutes and do this 3 to 4 days per week.

Depending on how you feel, increase your duration by 5-10 minutes per session each week until you can do 45-60 minutes of non-stop cardio exercise.


5) Integrate Intense Intervals

With your fitness foundation in place, start cranking up the intensity by integrating intervals into your routine (this is key for fat loss). Intervals are higher intensity bursts interspersed within your cardio routine designed to raise your heart rate and crank up the calorie burning control knob.

During your cardio exercise, start off with 1 to 2-minute high intensity bursts and then give yourself 3-4 minutes of active recovery at a lower intensity (keep walking or pedaling).

Perform your intervals at an intensity high enough that you can barely speak to the person next to you, preferably an exercise partner who shares your same fat loss goals.

6) Work Up to High Intensity For Longer

Once you’ve established your fitness foundation and incorporated intervals into your regimen, try to maintain higher intensities for longer durations.  The longer you maintain the higher intensities, the more energy you burn, the more fat you pull out of storage, and the greater your overall fat loss.

7) Lift Weights (or Body Weight). Muscle = Metabolism

Muscle is the machinery that drives your metabolism.  Resistance training is known to enhance muscle size, structure, and function all of which cause a cascade of health benefits.  It doesn’t mean that you need to grunt and groan amongst bespandexed gym gorillas.

Many of the fitness boot camps leverage on calisthenic style exercises which mostly use body weight for resistance.  Muscles don’t have eyes.  As long as you’re stressing your muscles at a level above and beyond that which they’re normally accustomed, you can expect improvements in your appearance and, of course, your metabolic health.

8) Focus on Small Changes For Big Improvements

Avoid radical changes in your diet, as this only sets you up for failure.  Focus instead on making tiny nutrition changes you can live with.  For example, try cutting down on soda, chips, and sweets.

If you drink a liter per day, wean your way down to 500 milliliters, then to 250, and eventually to water.  One little change can translate to big changes in both scale weight and appearance over the long haul.

If you consume 250 calories less and expend 250 calories more with exercise each day, over one calendar year you’d could plausibly strip off about 23 kilograms (50 pounds) of body fat.

Obviously the actual amount of fat loss will vary due to inter-individual differences in genes, habits, and behavioral considerations (see my article: Obesity Genes: Does your DNA predict Body Fat and Weight?).  Small changes are important because they minimise the “famine response” and keep you off the exercise rollercoaster (and then some). As a general rule, healthy FAT LOSS is approximately 1 – 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kg) per week.

9) “Incidentally Speaking,” Waste Energy with Incidental Activity

The emerging science of inactivity physiology shows that we need to be as inefficient as humanly possible as often as possible.

  • Waste energy at all times of the day outside of your structured exercise sessions.
  • Avoid life’s shortcuts.
  • Nix the elevators. Opt for the stairs.
  • Walk up those steep hills.
  • Take public transit and weigh yourself down with a laptop case or backpack.
  • Use a handbasket at the supermarket instead of a trolley (shopping cart).
  • Use a standing workstation instead of a sit-down desk.

The more energy you blow throughout the day, the greater your overall fat loss.  Every little bit counts and it all contributes to the “bottom line.”


10) Buddy Up

Sure, misery loves company, but so does exercise!  Identify your supporters and saboteurs.   Avoid the saboteurs who will attempt to undermine and derail your efforts out of jealousy.   Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who will either exercise with you on your journey or play the role of cheerleader!  It may also be helpful to join online support networks which will allow you to share your experience with other like-minded people who may be going through the same thing.

11) Make it Fun

It’s the age-old question: What’s the best exercise in the world?  The one you LIKE and the one you’ll do on a regular basis!  I see lots of trainers and exercisers alike debating over which exercise is best, but when it comes right down to it, you just need to find something that will make you more active.   If you like to walk, then walk.  If you like to ride your bike around the neighborhood, then ride your bike.  As mentioned above, intersperse some intervals to crank up the calorie burning control knob!

12) Unfriend the Media

The media is NOT your friend.  Cancel your cable TV subscription or at least stop watching it 20 hours per week. Nix the fluffy celebrity gossip magazines. These types of publications are loaded with unrealistic body images that are merely airbrushed photos meant to provide false hope and sell copies.

13) Fire Your Health Guru

The popularity of social media has led to rampant proliferation of self-styled “health gurus” like the so-called Food Babe and David “Avocado” Wolfe, both of whom have gone down in flames for making outlandish claims with no health science training.

While we all want to believe claims that health nirvana is just one miracle diet, supplement, or infomercial gadget away, the grim reality is that none of this works.

Guru promises of simple solutions to complex problems will likely leave you with complex problems without simple solutions. While not always a guarantee, checking for university qualifications in a health science can increase your chances of getting reliable information that will help you adopt a healthy lifestyle for life.

DRUM ROLL…… THE SECRET TO PERMANENT FAT LOSS

In all my years as a diet and exercise professional, I can tell you one thing with absolute unequivocal certainty: the secret to permanent fat loss is that THERE IS NO SECRET.

Every client I’ve worked with who has lost weight and kept it off did not rely on slimming wraps (i.e., It Works body wraps). They simply committed themselves to a healthy lifestyle and then stuck with it for the long term. Thing is, we’ve known it all along.

Even the ancient Greeks knew it.  Hippocrates is quoted as saying, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

More recent evidence of this can be found on Dr. Rena Wing’s National Weight Control Registry at the University of Rhode Island.

As much as we’d all like to believe in “wishful shrinking,” miracle diets, pills, powders, and infomercial gadgets do not work.  If they did we’d all be thin by now!

Bottom line:  consistency in doing the right thing will always win out over quick-fix fad diets and gimmicks.  Stay the course!